James Comey, a former official in the Bush Justice Department, has been tapped by President Obama to become the new FBI Director, replacing the long-serving Robert Mueller who is stepping down in September.
Here’s what you should know about him.
1. He Was U.S. Deputy Attorney General During the Bush Administration
He served as Deputy Attorney General for the Bush Justice Department and was involved in many controversial issues, such as wiretapping and the use of harsh interrogation techniques.
2. The ACLU Has Raised Questions About His Nomination
The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement raising serious questions about Comey’s record during the Bush administration, saying that his previous actions deserve “deserve careful scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
3. He Argued Against Using Torture But Also Helped Approve It
He was against the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, but Justice Department emails at the time reveal that he agreed with that such techniques would be legal if used.
4. He Once Threatened to Resign over Bush’s Wiretapping Program
He got into a dispute with the Bush administration over the reauthorization of the warrantless domestic surveillance program, which led to him drafting a letter of resignation. The letter was never sent, but you can read it below.
5. He Prosecuted Martha Stewart
Before joining Bush’ Department of Justice, Comey worked as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York where he served as lead prosecutor in the Martha Stewart insider trading case.
6. He Was Short-Listed for the Supreme Court
When Supreme Court Justice David Souter was set to resign, Obama White House officials, such as Robert Gibbs, pushed for Comey’s inclusion on the short-list for possible replacements. Obama ultimately chose Sonia Sotomayor instead.
7. He Donated Money to Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign
Federal Election Commission records show that Comey donated to both John McCain’s and Mitt Romney;s presidential campaigns.
8. He Filed a ‘Friend of the Court’ Brief in Support of Same-Sex Marriage
Comey was one of 130 Republicans to sign an amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court brief, in support of same-sex-marriage in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry. This case was brought against California’s Proposition 8 that outlawed same-sex marriage and is currently before the Supreme Court.
9. He Contradicted the Bush Administration’s Claims During U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal
Comey refused to carry the water for the Bush administration during the 2007 U.S. Attorney firing scandal where seven U.S. attorneys were dismissed midterm for political reasons. His testimony during a House Judiciary subcommittee contradicted then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez who had claimed the firings were only due to poor performance. He told the committee:
“The Department of Justice, in my view, is run by political appointees of the President. The U.S. attorneys are political appointees of the President. But once they take those jobs and run this institution, it’s very important in my view for that institution to be another in American life, that — because my people had to stand up before juries of all stripes, talk to sheriffs of all stripes, judges of all stripes. They had to be seen as the good guys, and not as either this administration or that administration.”
10. He Served as General Counsel to Lockheed Martin
After leaving the Bush administration, Comey served as General Counsel for defense contractor Lockheed Martin from 2005 to 2010.
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